The two pillars of design theory: Method of analysis and rhetoric

Lauri Jaakko Koskela, Glenn Ballard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Since the 1960's, there have been many initiatives for promoting theoretical understanding on design. However, in spite of definite progress, there are several puzzles and anomalies in the current theoretical landscape of design. We present an interpretation of the evolution of design theorizing that throws new light on these puzzles and anomalies. We contend that in the modern time, there have been two hidden inspirational sources for design theorizing, namely the method of analysis and rhetoric. As they concern different situations, their prescriptions in many ways differ. However, without explicit recourse to the sources, these mutually incompatible prescriptions, along with associated concepts and terms, have been mixed up in a confusing way. It is proposed that these two influences to design theory and practice have to be disentangled, to be able to act like two pillars supporting the phenomenon of designing. We hypothesize that actual design assignments require the mobilization of ideas and support from both pillars.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Conference on Engineering Design, Design for Harmonies Vol 2
Subtitle of host publicationDesign Theory and Research Methodology
EditorsUdo Lindemann, Srinivasan Venkataraman, Yong Se Kim, Sang Wong Lee, John Clarkson, Gaetano Cascini
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2013
Externally publishedYes
Event19th International Conference on Engineering Design: Design for Harmonies - Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Duration: 19 Aug 201322 Aug 2013
Conference number: 19

Publication series



Conference19th International Conference on Engineering Design
Abbreviated titleICED 2013
Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


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